PowerPoint presenter view smarter with sp1

PowerPointOnce you install Office 2010 service pack 1 then PowerPoint presenter view gets a bit smarter about how it choose which screen is used for the presenter’s “dashboard”, and which shows the slides for the audience.

With sp1 installed, when you select “use presenter view” on the Slide Show tab of the Ribbon, whichever monitor is set to be your main display (the one with your Start menu and Taskbar on) will be assumed to be the one the presenter is looking at, while the slides will go on your second monitor.

PowerPoint Slide Show Ribbon tab - Presenter View option

This is usually the right decision and is much more likely to result in you getting the setup you need “right first time” without having to fiddle about to choose the right monitor from the list (although you can still select this by hand if you need to override the automatic choice, of course).

Producer for PowerPoint

PowerPoint 2010 logo

The Microsoft Office blog has an article about Producer for PowerPoint, as well as links to the download page, and importantly to the Office Animation Runtime which you will need if you have PowerPoint 2010 (previous versions installed this along with the application, whereas 2010 does not). What is strange here is that the download page describes this as version 2 with a release date of 29th April 2011, yet the actual download page and file is identical to the version released and announced at the beginning of May last year.

The previous release was really a bug fix version which sorted out compatibility for Office 2007 and 2010, and there were vague claims that there would be new features in some later release, although as always according to policy there were no specifics about software in development.

Producer is a great way to turn a presentation file into a polished multimedia show which anyone can view using their browser. This is great for e-learning, tutorials, or any situation where you want to take something which would normally be delivered in person and make it available to a wider audience.

Oddly enough the download page refers to this as version 2, but the program itself claims (through help > about) that it is build 3.0.3012.0, but the MD5 hash for this file is identical to the year-old one. I’ve had a couple of problems with it – for example if you delete a load of slides from the timeline it expands the last one to fill up the space, and when you try to shrink it back down it takes while for no obvious reason, in my case chewing up one of my four processor cores flat out for a couple of minutes (tip: only add slides when you know you need them rather than all at once to avoid this problem).

Using PowerPoint Presenter View to help deliver Great Presentations

I am frequently amazed by the number of people who I meet in my training sessions who use PowerPoint as a key tool for their jobs, regularly stand up and present to groups of customers or colleagues, and have never even heard of Presenter View, let alone used it.

What does Presenter View offer?

Presenter View has been available in PowerPoint for nearly ten years, and allows you (the presenter) to see much more than the audience. Specifically, you will be able to see on your screen:

  • the current slide exactly as the audience see it (and which stage of “building” the slide you are up to)
  • your speaker notes to remind you of important points to say, and other facts to refer to in answering questions
  • all of your slides (including hidden ones to remind you they are there), shown as a series of thumbnails across the bottom, rather like a film strip (down the side in 2002/3)
  • slide <number> of <total slide count>
  • the elapsed time
  • the time of day (2007 onwards)
  • access to tools such as pen and highlighter to draw on screen and annotate slides on the fly, again without turning around (2007 onwards)

This means that you can sit or stand facing your audience without needing to keep turning around to see the screen to know where you are up to (or far worse, to read it out to your audience). It can also help you to follow good practice and avoid including lots of things on your slides to remind you what to say, by making everything easily available in your notes section. This means you can remove lots of the words from your slides – or perhaps all of them, using only a picture to illustrate your topic.

Read more about using PowerPoint presenter view to present like a pro»

5 reasons to always put titles on every slide in PowerPoint

I have a golden rule which is that all slides in a PowerPoint presentation MUST have titles, which I mentioned in an earlier post about using large images in PowerPoint. Before I get hundreds of comments saying this is nonsense, and “less is more”, I just want to be very clear: every slide must have a title, they just don’t necessarily have to be visible to the audience.

The minimalist, image-led approach often recommended by followers of Presentation Zen and Beyond Bullet Points (and others) can be very powerful and really help to get your message heard and understood, but people often take it too far and actually delete the title placeholder from their slide, or use the “blank” layout. Even if you don’t want to put words on your slides to show the audience, you should still keep the title, and I’ll explain why and how to achieve this, and discuss a couple of things which might catch you out.

Read five reasons to put a title on every single PowerPoint slide »

Using large images in PowerPoint

One technique for effective presentations is to use large images, especially photographs, with minimal or no text and use these to evoke the ideas you are talking about, or create a connection or emotional response for the audience. On his Slides that Stick blog, Jan Shultink discusses a simple technique to make sure your images have the right proportion and fill the slide which is well worth a read.

Keeping things in proportion

I shudder when I see images that have been pulled and stretched out of proportion, particularly if it is the presenter’s company logo (or worse still that of the audience’s firm, hastily borrowed from their website).
Jan’s tip about dragging by a corner is great for pictures and photos because PowerPoint will assume you want to preserver the aspect ratio, but this is not true for drawings or some vector graphics – a simple hold of the shift key while dragging the corner has the same effect for these files. Note that in both cases, this technique preserves the current aspect ratio, so to get things right in the first place you need to use the reset as pointed out by Jan.

If you are using PowerPoint 2007 or later and you insert a picture from file on a content slide, it will fit it into the content placeholder, so you would then have to expand it up to fit. A quicker way to get it full screen is to make sure to change the slide layout to blank or to title only. Then when you insert the picture it will make it as large as possible while still fitting the whole of the picture on the slide. If your picture is the same orientation (portrait or landscape) and proportion as your slide it will fill it. If it is not then it will still need to be stretched a little to fill the whole slide (this is often the case if you are designing slides for widescreen 16:9 layout and using digital camera pictures which are usually closer to a 4:3 ratio).

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Einstein on PowerPoint

Albert Einstein famously said “Everything should be as simple as possible, but not simpler” in reference to physics and its explanations of the Universe.

It might also apply to PowerPoint presentations, where it is too easy to clutter slide with too many bullets or too much information and detail. For example, a chart with comparisons of twenty products across three sales regions for the last four quarters – with all the individual sales figures attached to each part of the stacked bar, of course.

Don’t do it. Keep it simple. Provide enough information in the visual aid to make the point (eg Widgets are selling more than ever, and sales in Toyland are decreasing) but no more than that.

Use the speaker’s notes to provide you with the extra detail if you need to refer to the numbers, and include these notes in the handout so people can digest them later if they want to. Think about using some hidden slides so you have a selection of related charts and / or figures which you can show in response to a direct question, but will not bore the audience with if they seem uninterested (or simply happy to take your conclusions at face value).

Handouts are also the right place for giving the source of your data and any appropriate caveats such as how many people were surveyed in a poll, or what exchange rate has been used to compare sales across currencies.

A good technique to deliver a more professional presentation is to think about what the audience would write down if there were no handouts. What would be the really important things they chose to take away? So why try and ram anything else through their eyeballs and into their brains?

Eistein giving a blackboard presentation about PowerPoint

Footnote: you can make your own images of Einstein’s blackboard musings here: http://www.hetemeel.com/einsteinform.php

Ceci n’est pas une brand

One of the training courses I run is about producing and delivering better PowerPoint presentations. This looks at ways to avoid Death by PowerPoint by using well-crafted, visually attractive slides to provide maximum impact and increase audience understanding and information retention.

In a future blog post I might collect some thoughts together around that topic, but for now I thought I would link to a pretty good example. Given that this is a slideshow with no presenter, there is text accompanying pictures which would not necessarily be the case if it was speaker-driven. However, it is still a great example of visual impact to deliver a strong message.

Notice that because of the limitations of SlideShare (and good taste on the part of the designer) there are no animations, no builds, just pure, simple, accessible slides. One of the disciplines I ask my course delegates to adopt is to print their slide deck in black and white, 6 slides to a page. Only if their slides are readable and make sense (and have impact) in this format will they be successful for a presentation. Maybe my new discipline should be “post it to SlideShare” which has similar limitations of size* and lack of animation .

*I know you can view it in full-screen mode but many people won’t do this, and those that do often want to see if the first couple of slides draw them in before doing that.

The Brand Gap Presentation is also an interesting insight into the topic of branding and marketing, which is often a theme which comes into choice of presentation style and touches on some of the areas I teach.

Your brand is not what you say it is, it’s what they say it is.

Huge PowerPoint files and how to avoid them

I have used PowerPoint for many years in a variety of job roles and it never ceases to amaze me that other people are able to create presentations which are, quite frankly, vast in their file sizes. There are several reasons for this, but the underlying problem is twofold:

a) users don’t think about file size until it is too late (when they realise they can’t email it, nor fit it on their memory stick nor even burn it to a single CD)

b) they don’t know how to avoid or fix the problem even if they did think about it

This means that many common causes of over-sized files go unchecked, files are used and re-used, and by the time you see there is a problem you have a huge clearing up job to do. Much better to tackle the issue at the source – when creating your presentation in the first place.

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